National Catholic Register

Arts & Entertainment

DVD Picks & Passes 05.31.2009

BY Steven D. Greydanus

May 31-June 6, 2009 Issue | Posted 5/22/09 at 12:10 PM

 

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

El Dorado (1966)

Saturday Morning Cartoons (1960s Vol.1)

Saturday Morning Cartoons (1970s Vol.1)


Whether you're Jimmy Stewart or Robert Mitchum, John Wayne has your back in a pair of classic Westerns returning to DVD in the latest additions to Paramount's Centennial Collection.

John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance juxtaposes Wayne and Stewart — two American icons that embody such different ideals that it's almost inconceivable that they should both play heroes in the same film. Yet here they are, side by side: toughness vs. sensitivity, frontier grit vs. civilized decency, rugged individualism vs. communal values. Both romantic and cynical, it's famous for the line "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend" — an extraordinary commentary in a genre that traditionally did just that.

In Howard Hawks' El Dorado, by contrast, Wayne and Mitchum are two of a kind, men of action and honor, bound more by mutual respect than friendship in a tale of ranch feuds, grudges and guns for hire. Like Hawks' earlier Rio Bravo, it's a deliberately traditional oater combining the director's facility for excitement blended with humor with his characteristic themes of professionalism, duty and loyalty. Wayne and Mitchum join forces with James Caan's young knife thrower and Arthur Hunnicutt's elderly, no-nonsense deputy, and Hawks gives each of his characters a chance to contribute.

Generous extras for both films include commentaries by Peter Bogdanovich, seven-part featurettes, theatrical trailers and more.

Also new on DVD are the first two volumes of Saturday Morning Cartoons, one focusing on the 1960s, one on the 1970s. Each set offers two discs featuring a potpourri of sample episodes from a range of series.

Released by Warner Bros., the sets focuses mostly on Hanna Barbara. The 1960s' set features the likes of "The Flintstones," "Magilla Gorilla," "Space Ghost" and animé series "Marine Boy." The 1970s' set features "Batman/Tarzan," "Speed Buggy" and a raft of "Scooby-Doo" knockoffs, including "Goober and the Ghost Chasers," "Josie and the Pussycats" and "Funky Phantom."

As a Saturday morning smorgasbord, "Saturday Morning Cartoons" is a decent way to revisit your childhood and maybe share it with your kids. For most of these series, I don"t need to see more — though the 1970s' "Tarzan" episode, the best thing on either set, makes me want more. (One dose of "Bat Mite" is plenty.) But where is "Clue Club"? I remember that as one of the better "Scooby"-type shows.

CONTENT ADVISORY:The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance:Some strong frontier violence. Teens and up. El Dorado: Frontier violence; drunkenness and aftereffects; some suggestive content. Teens and up. Saturday Morning Cartoons: Some series have mild menace and/or spookiness, stylized action violence and/or slapstick. Okay family viewing.